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28 June 2016

GNFS Worried Over Recent Fire Deaths

By Issah Alhassan

gnfs fire serviceThe Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Dr. Albert Brown Gaisie, has charged commanders of the service to adopt proactive measures aimed at combating the menace of fires in the country.

Dr. Brown Gaisie emphasised that the era whereby commanders only become active when there is an accident of fire outbreak should be a thing of the past, stressing that there is the need for personnel to intensify education and create awareness amongst Ghanaians, on the need to adopt safety measures that can help prevent fire. The CFO made the call when he interacted with personnel of the service, made up of commanders, as well as the media, in Kumasi last Friday.

Dr. Brown Gaisie, who reiterated the concerns of the Interior Ministry and the Ghana National Fire Service Council, as far as recent incidents of fire outbreaks in the Ashanti Region, which have resulted in the deaths of 11 persons, said the service had devised several measures to help tackle the problem.

According to him, the rate of fatalities was unacceptable, adding that both the Ministry and the Council could not fathom how innocent lives were being lost on a daily basis through incidents of fire.

“Your duty is not only to sit in the comfort of your offices and claim to be working, you need to go out there and educate the people, constantly remind them about the need to prevent themselves from fire,” he cautioned.

The visit by the CFO follows recent fire incidents in the region, particularly, those at Mampong and Santasi, which resulted in the loss of ten lives, with another one losing his life last Thursday at North Suntreso in Kumasi.

Dr. Brown Gaisie disclosed that that the service was embarking, first of all, on the reconfiguration of tools and logistics, explaining that equipment were being moved from low risk areas to medium and high risk areas to ensure efficiency.

“As far as fire is concerned, the country has been zoned into three; Low, Medium and High Risks, but we have come to realise that some equipment may be needed in some areas more than others, so we have identified these priority areas, and are moving tools there,” he said.

The Chief Fire service Officer (CFO), Dr. Albert Brown Gaisie,The Chief Fire Officer, for instance, bewailed a situation whereby its personnel at Mampong found it difficult to break a burglar proof door, because there were no tools to do so, adding that the situation was unacceptable, and must not happen again.
He also charged personnel to collaborate with the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) to increase education on the highways.

He further intimated that the service would reignite the enforcement of Fire Safety Regulation, 2003 L.I 1725 that requires all households and owners of structures to observe high fire safety standards, failure of which can result in prosecution.

According to him, the regulation gives commanders of the service the authority to sue anyone or group of people that fail to adhere to the standards, and mentioned a case in point, where the Bechem Fire Command successfully sued some developers to get the court to stop the construction of some buildings which were not up to standard.

He further revealed the immediate introduction of the Home Fire Certificate, explaining that all fire commands will be required to liaise with local assemblies to help assist households to design their apartments to fit modern standards.

The CFO emphasised that under the programme, fire personnel would give guidelines on the creation of evacuation centres, points of exit, assembly points, simulation centres and placement of fire extinguishers at all major premises in the country.

On causes of fire outbreaks and whether the service suspects arson as a major contributor, Dr. Brown Gaisie said though arson was one of the major causes, its establishment could only be determined by the police, and not personnel of the Fire Service.

“There are various causes such as ignorance, negligence or carelessness on the part of people, but in the case of arson, we can only leave the police to conclude that after investigations,” he observed.

The CFO, therefore, charged the personnel to live above reproach, eschew rumours and pull him down attitudes, and work as a family to achieve success. He further hinted that the service was embarking on a performance appraisal to reward hardworking and dedicated staff, whilst announcing further that the government had given the assurance that the service conditions of personnel would soon be improved.

Dr. Brown Gaisie further announced the donation of undisclosed packages to families of the recent fire outbreaks at Mampong and Santasi. The Ashanti Regional Commander of the Service, ACFO Fiadjo, expressed gratitude to the Chief Fire Officer and his delegation for the visit, and pledged that the command would intensify its efforts to reduce fire incidents to the barest minimum.

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